The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current, September 01, 2014, Page Page 3, Image 3

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    September 1, 2014
HK news boss counters
rival’s fake obit with video
PANGOLINS IN PERIL. A pangolin curls into a ball as a Natural Resources Conservation Agency official
holds it up before releasing it into the wild at a conservation forest in Sibolangit, North Sumatra, Indonesia, in
this file photo. Wildlife activists in India have raised an alarm that scores of lesser-known animal species are be-
ing pushed to the brink of extinction because of rampant poaching and trafficking, while conservation efforts over
the past two decades were focused on saving India’s iconic tigers and rhinos. Tens of thousands of lesser-known
animals, such as pangolins, tortoises, and geckos, have been killed or smuggled out of India to supply a growing
demand for the skin, parts, or flesh of these animals, or sold to people wanting to keep them as exotic pets. (AP
Photo/Jefri Tarigan, File)
Indian poachers threaten
lesser-known animals
By Nirmala George
The Associated Press
EW DELHI — Wildlife poachers,
hindered by India’s efforts to pro-
tect majestic endangered animals
including tigers and rhinos, have begun to
think smaller. And activists say scores of
the country’s lesser-known species are
vanishing from the wild as a result.
The Indian pangolin — a scaly critter
whose defense mechanism of rolling up
into a ball is no help against humans —
and the star tortoise — a popular pet that
maxes out at a foot in length — are just two
of the species that are being killed or
smuggled in increasing numbers while
conservation efforts focus on such iconic
animals such as tigers and elephants.
“The problem is that we were turning a
blind eye to all lesser-known species and
suddenly this very lucrative trade has
been allowed to explode,” said Belinda
Wright, director of the Wildlife Protection
Society of India, an advocacy group.
Wildlife specialists say the growing
affluence of China, Vietnam, and other
Southeast Asian countries has helped
drive the demand for exotic animals. Some
are kept as pets, while others are eaten for
medicinal or aphrodisiacal properties.
Pangolins are killed for their meat,
which is considered a delicacy, and their
scales, which are used in traditional
Chinese medicine. The scales are made of
keratin, the same protein that forms hair
and fingernails, and have no documented
medicinal value.
The pangolin trade was once obscure in
India, with an average of only about three
a year reportedly killed by poachers
between 1990 and 2008. Wright said that
soared to an average of more than 320 per
year from 2009 to 2013.
That only covers confirmed seizures.
Customs officials and wildlife experts
estimate that seizures form only 10
percent of the total illegal trade. The
International Union for the Conservation
of Nature estimated in a report last month
that more than a million pangolins have
been poached from habitats in Asia and
Star tortoise seizures by airport and port
customs officials also have increased
dramatically, from an average of less than
800 per year from 1990 to 1999 to more
than 3,000 per year from 2002 to 2013,
according to the protection society.
Similarly, the growing demand for
lizard skin, meat, and bones has led to the
near-disappearance of the monitor lizard
in the Indian countryside, said Tito
Joseph, a program manager for the society.
Monitor lizard meat, especially the tongue
and liver, is mistakenly believed to have
aphrodisiacal properties, while lizard skin
finds use in high-end bags and belts.
Such animals became more attractive to
poachers as the Indian government
strengthened the tiger conservation pro-
gram it began nearly four decades ago.
Vast swathes of forests and hills have been
turned into tiger reserves and national
Indian officials deny neglecting lesser-
known species. Creating the tiger reserves
also helps protect smaller species in these
areas, they say.
“The focus on tigers does not mean that
other species are not taken care of,” said
S.B. Negi of the Wildlife Crime Control
Bureau, a government agency.
But the bureau has only just begun
efforts to collect data on many smaller spe-
cies now in peril, including the pangolin,
reflecting the scant attention they have
received so far. Kamal Datta, a director at
the bureau, said the agency has asked
wildlife departments in India’s 29 states to
collect the data, but some have yet to
“The trade in lesser known species
cannot be ignored, else entire species, such
as the Indian pangolin, are in danger of
being wiped out,” said Wright.
Pangolins, often described as “walking
artichokes” on account of their coats of
overlapping scales, were once found across
When threatened by predators, the
animal protects itself by curling up into a
scaly ball, but that makes it easy for
poachers to bundle them into sacks for
Most of the illegal trade in pangolins and
other species takes place across the porous
border that India shares with Nepal,
Myanmar, and Bangladesh, experts said.
Activists say efforts to stop the illegal
trade are hampered by a lack of knowledge
among customs officials and border guards
about the species they are supposed to
“We’re talking here of the threat of
pangolins being wiped out. But most often
the officials set to catch the poachers don’t
even know what the animal looks like, let
alone who are the people involved in
catching them, or those involved in the
trade,” said Shekhar Niraj, India director
of TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring
The International Union for Conserva-
tion of Nature’s Red List, generally
considered to be the most comprehensive
of its kind, lists 374 species in India that
are vulnerable and 274 others that are
endangered, or critically endangered, and
at risk of becoming extinct.
“This is a huge tragedy in the making,”
Wright said. “We must act before it is too
late, or many of these spectacular animals
will disappear.”
Hong Kong pro-democracy
media magnate has ap-
peared in a humorous video
to counter an obituary of
him published in a rival
Next Media boss Jimmy
Lai says in the video he is
whoever paid for the full-
page announcement in the
Oriental Daily.
The newspaper hasn’t
commented and it wasn’t
clear who took out the
announcement, which said
Lai Chee-ying died at age
65 from AIDS and multiple
cancers. It referred to Lai
by his Chinese name, but
used a different written
character for Chee that
sounds the same.
The graphic style of the
fake obituary mirrored
that of real obituaries in
Hong Kong media. It said
the tycoon was also known
as “Fatty Lai” and that his
family members also had
couldn’t attend his funeral.
It offered condolences to
staff at Two Media, a
reference to Lai’s company,
which in Chinese is known
as One Media.
Lai owns Apple Daily,
Hong Kong’s sole pro-
democracy newspaper. It
and Oriental Daily are
MEDIA HIJINKS. A copy of a full-page obituary announcement in
the Oriental Daily is displayed in Hong Kong in mid-August. The notice
says Hong Kong pro-democracy media magnate Lai Chee-ying died at
age 65 from AIDS and multiple cancers. It referred to Lai by his Chinese
name, but used a different written character for Chee that sounds the
same. Next Media boss Jimmy Lai, who owns Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s
sole pro-democracy newspaper, appeared in a humorous video to coun-
ter the obituary of him published in the rival newspaper. Lai said in the
video he is “sorry to disappoint” whoever paid for the full-page an-
nouncement in the Oriental Daily. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
among the most popular
semiautonomous Chinese
It’s the latest incident to
raise fears about press
freedom in Hong Kong,
which has tumbled in a
ranking by international
watchdog group Reporters
Without Borders to 61st
place from No. 18 in 2002.
The video intersperses
cartoon images with shots
of Lai filming himself,
selfie-style. The plot has
Lai being taken to the
afterlife by traditional
Chinese gods of the
underworld but sent back
because his name doesn’t
“This joke isn’t good
enough because I still don’t
have AIDS,” Lai says. “If
you want me to die, you’ll
have to keep cursing me.”
Next Media Ltd. is
known for firing out ani-
mated clips summarizing
big news events for its
readers. One of its best-
known videos portrayed
Tiger Woods’ infamous car
crash that preceded the
golfer’s divorce.
Arriving soon:
better transit service
Every day we connect people to where they need to go. And every
weekday, riders take more than 300,000 trips on TriMet. Over a third
of these trips are taken to and from work.
That’s why it’s good news for you that we are improving service. After
several long years of service cuts and fare increases caused by the
economic crisis, it’s going to be even faster and easier to take TriMet.
We are restoring service on high demand routes, reducing crowding
and wait times, and increasing schedule reliability.
More Frequent Service
Effective August 31, we’re adding weekday evening trips on our
Frequent Service bus lines and MAX to restore 15-minute (or better)
frequency into the evening hours. These lines are 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 14,
15, 33, 54, 56, 57 and 75. The MAX Green, Red and Yellow lines will
also run every 15 minutes (or better) into the evening hours.
Less crowding
We’re also adding more trips to Lines 4, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 33, 44, 76, 94
and 99 to relieve overcrowding.
Better schedule reliability
Schedules have already improved on Line 71 and will improve for
Lines 20 and 87, to better match traffic conditions and ridership.
Look for similar changes to Lines 19, 22, 48 and 72 in December.